Todd Bradley, the executive vice president of HP's Personal Systems Group, is not going to give up the hard-won PC ground that he and his team have battled for without a fight.
Bradley usually likes to let his $40 billion organization's financial results do the talking. But these days, he is making sure that customers and partners understand just where he and HP stand with regard to a spin-off of the business that he took six years ago from a rather lackluster second place PC player to the worldwide market leader. He says his plan is to stick around and chart a course to deliver a new generation of client devices. And he is in the midst of a non-stop campaign tour of sorts, meeting with customers and partners to make sure they know that he and HP are not going to leave them high and dry.
Leadership in the channel means looking partners in the eye and doing what you say you are going to do. It means building long-term, relationships and making sure those partners know you have their back. That's just what Bradley has done over the last six years. And that is what he is doing now even though he and his PSG team "got relatively late into the [PSG spin-off] process."
But now Bradley and the entire team are going on what he calls the offensive. More than a few executives in a crisis like the one Bradley is dealing with now have gone dark on partners preferring not to answer the tough questions that come with the job. Not Bradley.
Watching Bradley meet with top HP PSG partner Denali Advanced Integration in Redmond, Wash. this week was a lesson in leadership. Denali co-founder and CEO Majdi "Mike" Daher came away from the meeting confident that he can count on Bradley and HP, which is no small matter considering the shock waves that HP's decision to explore a PC spin-off sent through the partner community and the angst it has caused in the full HP product portfolio sales pipeline.
"I trust Todd and his executive leadership team within PSG to make the right decision not only for HP, but also for the channel partner ecosystem that has been so successful over the past six years," said Daher after the meeting with Bradley which included a tour by Bradley of Denali's facility. "There is a transformation taking place with regard to what client devices will look like in the new world of technology. I believe that Todd and HP PSG are taking the right steps by building an independent company that can act with speed and agility to meet the demands of what those devices will look like in the future."
Bradley, for his part, is reassuring partners that HP is not backing away from its product or partner commitments. "All of our partners should know from the past to never underestimate our willingness and ability to go to the market and win with them," he said. "Don't believe everything you are told by our competitors. We have a long history of winning together and I think we have a great future to do that together coming up. Again the team that got all these partners to where they are is the team that is going to take them to the next step in hopefully a spun-out company."
Those words should not be taken lightly given Bradley's track record at PSG. He has added $10 billion in sales over the last six years with profitability growing more than three-fold. His PC unit on its own would be the 60th largest company in the world with $2 billion in annual operating profit. In short, it's not a business that can be discounted either on its own or as part of a another company.
For those that think there is no money in client devices, you need only look at the HP PSG balance sheet or the balance sheet of Apple, Dell or Lenovo. It's a good business despite the complexity of grappling with mind-numbing supply chain, compressed product design and manufacturing schedules and channel sales strategies that have chewed up and spit out countless companies.
Bradley has proven to be an expert at navigating the treacherous PC terrain. HP partners who have made big bets on HP's PC business and the entire HP product portfolio say it is only with Bradley at the helm that they see a continued bright future for HP's PC business. That's because they see certainty, stability and consistency in an HP PSG spin-off led by Bradley.
Given the complex sales and supply chain issues raised by separating PSG from HP, HP's board of directors would be wise to make sure Bradley is on board. There are a lot of moving parts as you take a $40 billion business and set it off on its own. It's going to take someone that knows that business well and has a proven track record of delivering results to make sure that the business does not melt down as it is cast out of HP.
Now, more than ever HP needs a strong leader to ensure that the HP PC business remains healthy and vibrant. That someone is Todd Bradley.